Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 8, 2009

George McManus: Manage resources

The Grand Traverse Region is blessed with abundant renewable natural resources, which properly managed, will remain for the next 150 years and beyond.

The community of the future depends on what direction the citizenry and leadership decide to take and external influences over which they have no control.

We are located at the center of the largest supply of fresh water on earth. Our soils can be made productive. Our climate, although northern, is attractive for crop production (particularly horticultural), tourist activities, retirement and just plain living.

Sources of income need to be attracted, promoted and developed. These include sales of agricultural, timber and fishery products, retirement incomes, tourism, marketing of locally developed technologies and business ventures.

The expanding population of future years will be more diverse, in particular in the increase of Hispanic people. Life expectancy will increase. Greatly expanded medical, assisted living and long-term care facilities will be necessary, as will extended cultural, artistic, educational and recreational resources.

Energy needs will increase. Nuclear power, supplemented by wind, solar, biomass, natural gas and petroleum, will be used more to generate electricity. Gene manipulation breakthroughs will unlock potential insect and disease controls and dietary changes that improve public health.

Hopefully, coming generations will continue the charitable tradition for which this community is noted. It is a huge asset to the area's present success as a place to live work and retire.

How well the coming generations lead, preserve and adapt to change will determine whether northwest Michigan will be maintained as an exceptionally fine place to live, work and retire.

George McManus is a fourth generation cherry farmer, served as Grand Traverse County's agriculture extension agent for 25 years and as a state senator from 1991-2002.